© Samantha Saskia Dugon
“I didn’t realise I’d broken a rib”: Kriss Kyle on surviving Out of Season
The Scottish BMX star swapped 20" wheels for a full-suspension rig in his debut mountain biking edit. But with a bigger bike comes even bigger falls...
There’s not much that Kriss Kyle can’t do on a BMX. Since his first Red Bull edit, Kaleidoscope, was released in 2015, the 29-year-old Scot has continued to push his sport to the next level – displaying unparalleled creativity, jaw-dropping tricks, and an ability to ride absolutely anything aboard his 20” wheels.
Not content with conquering all on his BMX, Kriss has turned his attention to bigger things (well, in terms of bikes, at least). Out of Season is the result, and sees him apply his signature flair to the world of mountain biking in an all-out trail riding edit.
Filmed on location in Powys, Wales, Out of Season combines traditional British winter trails (read: wet and muddy) with some custom-built North Shore features, leaving Kriss with the perfect course to attempt some tricks that have never been seen before on a full-suspension rig.
Watch the behind-the-scenes film and check out our interview with Kriss below to find out more about Out of Season.
Kriss Kyle: Out of Season
Hey Kriss. Congratulations on Out of Season. What was your inspiration for the project?
In my head, I wanted to make a mountain bike version of Kaleidoscope, including some of the features that I designed for that video. It was hard to visualise it at first when I went to scout out the woods though – I knew roughly how it would look but I didn’t know how it was going to work.
Fortunately, I visited with the trail builders and the usual crew that I work with – George and Jake – and those guys could visualise it right away. They sketched it up, we chatted it through and they started building.
The course was everything that I’d dreamed of. When you’re working on projects like this, you need a crew who can actually get it and visualise it with you because the whole thing is a team effort from the start.
You’re known for your BMX riding. How long have you been riding mountain bikes for?
It’s still quite new to me – I’d say I’ve been riding properly for the last two years. I like it because it’s a good crossover. It keeps it fresh and fun for me, and is like a breath of fresh air.
I still get the same buzz out of BMXing but usually I’m in a city and getting chased away by security or trying to work with traffic – it can be quite stressful sometimes. With a mountain bike, I’m up in the woods, I’m with nature and just listening to the birds tweet so it’s a bit different and a lot more mellow.
Was it hard to relearn the tricks on a bigger bike?
Yeah. I guess that’s another thing that I like about it – it’s almost like learning to ride all over again. The basic skill is there so it’s just transferring that over and figuring out how to move that bike and technique. It’s definitely harder to manoeuvre the bigger bike around compared to my BMX – a 360 on my BMX is pretty easy but if you try and do it on a MTB, it’s so big, you’re working with suspension, gears and brakes… it’s just a totally different ball game, but I’m loving it.
How did the filming compare to your previous projects?
Some days I wished I was away somewhere hot filming, and not in a mud pit in Wales. We got really lucky with the weather but I’m not used to riding in the rain or the wet – I’ll never do that on a BMX. But it was still a mountain bike video called Out of Season, so I was riding in some pretty sloppy, horrible weather. It was pretty messy.
It was a nice vibe just being in the woods and being back with my crew again though, especially after the year we had. It was good to get back into something and it makes you realise how passionate you are about your sport. I missed it so much so to get back into it and get something done was incredible.
Did you have to prepare yourself any differently to a BMX project?
I put pressure on myself because this was the first time that Red Bull has believed in my mountain biking and fully backed me with a project. I’m used to BMX but this is a completely different kettle of fish and what happens if I can’t do it? Is it going to affect future projects?
As soon as I’m on a project and on my bike though, mentally it doesn’t matter if it’s BMX or MTB – I know for a fact that I’m sending it and going to give it my all. Somehow I got through it and stuff started to work. There’s no better feeling than landing a trick and getting away with it and watching it back with the lads and everyone’s going nuts. That’s the buzz that I’m always chasing – that’s why I do it.
Filming didn’t go 100% to plan and you got pretty badly injured. What happened?
It was the second to last day, everything was going almost too good. I’d left the roof drop to the end of the week thinking that if anything were to happen, I should have got videos of the other stuff. It was one of the things that I’d been stressing about all week. I knew that if I crashed it was going to hurt.
On my first attempt, I approached the edge of the roof too fast and overshot the landing. As soon as I left the roof, I knew right away that I was going down and there’s nothing you can do. It’s just like trying to ride a bull – you need to tame it. The bike just bucked me right off. Before I knew it, I was down the bottom of a valley.
I didn’t realise I’d broken a rib. All of the adrenaline was going
It could have been so much worse and I got really lucky. I somehow managed to miss all the tree stumps that were there – I think I was inches away from hitting my back on one.
I didn’t realise I’d broken a rib. All of the adrenaline was going. I got myself together, got myself back on the roof to try it again. I fell again – it wasn’t as bad but it nearly was. I landed it on my fourth attempt but I nearly went completely off the side again. I somehow got away with it. The next day, the pain was hitting in.
Were you nervous attempting that trick again despite such a big crash?
If I can’t picture doing it in my head, I’ll never try it because I know for a fact that’s when you get hurt. I could definitely picture this, and I could picture it all working out. I did that to my rib, and I thought “I’ve got it the next time, I know I do”. I got back up there. It’s a case of looking at it a few times and then saying “right lads, here I come”. Even if I don’t want to go, I’m putting my body into autopilot and I’m going off that roof. There’s no two ways about it.
I try to overcome fear by just pushing myself to the absolute limit
I’d like to think that with my skill of riding over the last 18 years, I’m usually pretty good at getting off the bike and getting away from something. I rely on that, thinking "if something does go wrong, I can hopefully roll out or get away from it” just with the years of experience. I try to blank out and go on autopilot or just picture high-fiving the lads at the bottom; I try to overcome that fear by just pushing myself to the absolute limit.
You had to pause filming to recover from your broken rib. Was that hard to take?
Everyone knows how rubbish last year was. I thought I was going to end it on a high because I was so close to finishing the video but I took that crash.
It wasn't the best way to end the year so I was bummed on that but I’m glad it happened when I look back on it. I’d done everything I’d set out to do apart from one big thing, which was the backflip footplant. I was so hungry to get back down there and get it finished off and do an even better job than what I would have done if I didn’t break my rib.
Things happen for a reason, and it was good to get down there and finally finish it off. I was really relieved because it seemed like it was never ending for a while.
What is your favourite trick or section from the edit?
It would probably be the backflip footplant because no one has really done that on those sorts of bikes. It’s something I’ve done on my BMX and I really wanted to get it done on the mountain bike. That was a struggle because the bike was so big. The bike took a beating and I snapped my front axle trying it as well. The sun was going down and I knew it was now or never. I just held onto my bike and we somehow got it.
Is this the start of more big wheel projects?
As soon as I finished it, that day I was just wishing we were continuing on so I’m already looking to do another one.